12 September 2011

An office with a view

How would you like to work in an office with a view like the one below?

That's the view from the tower at Brisbane International Airport, looking west toward the city. I used to work in the city, and all I could see out my window was the walls of other buildings. It's not hard to guess where I went for a visit today.

A couple of months ago, I applied for a job as a trainee air traffic controller. I've gone through the online test stage and the phone interview, and next week I have a full day of interviews and other assessments. If I'm successful there, I'll have a full year of training in Melbourne ahead of me, before returning to Brisbane to finish off my training as an enroute controller. Today I paid the control centre a visit to get an idea of what's involved in the job.

I could explain what goes on at Brisbane Centre, but the Air Services Australia website does a better job of that.

Even though I'm applying as an enroute controller, I still got to spend about an hour up in the tower, and what a view.

Above is the view across Moreton Bay out toward Moreton Island with a couple of Virgin Blue 737s.

The domestic terminal. The international terminal is to the right of the tower.

Off in the distance, behind the refinery, is Wellington Point, where I sometimes paddle the kayak. The big sandy bit is on North Stradbroke Island.

Port of Brisbane, where both my brother and my step-son-in-law work.

SMC, or surface movement control. This is the guy that tells the aircraft where to go while they're still on the ground. To the right of him is a co-ordinator, and to the right of him is the aerodrome controller, the guy that tells aircraft where to go when they're in the air, when they aren't talking to departures or arrivals. I say guys, there are women that do these jobs too, it's just that none were in the tower while I was there.

If you were on an Air New Guinea flight departing Brisbane around 11am today, this is your plane.

If you're ever offered the chance to visit a control tower, I'd highly recommend it, even if it's just a little regional airport. If you're considering working in ATC, then you'd be mad not to organise a visit if you live close enough. In the three hours I was at the airport I had the chance to chat to about nine different people about their jobs. You just don't get that sort of information from chatting to someone on an aviation forum.

I'll keep you posted on my progress through the selection process, however, it may take some time.